Friday, 22 August 2014

Blood Diva by VM Gautier

Reviewer: JW Hicks, author of Rats

What we thought: The prologue sets the tone; hunter traps victim. But this weak-seeming victim proves to be an experienced, far more successful killer. A sweet turnabout, indeed, and it’s not the only one you’ll find in this intriguing novel.

The successful killer, Alphonsine, is a forever youthful divo, a hedonistic, blood-sucking vampire, one of the society of undead living cheek by jowl with their unsuspecting human prey. Through the ages vampires have used their powers to amass wealth, hide crimes and make inquisitive humans disappear.

Blood Diva tells of Alphonsine’s turning in 1846, and of her flamboyant life leading to the present day. With her we experience the vampiric joy of drinking sacramental blood. We taste of the victim’s soul – the sweetness of a child’s, the candied grape flavour of young men, the remnant of innocence-lost in the blood of a serial killer, and the sadness and defeat in the blood of the old. We learn how human death can be softened, made easy, even joyful by the venom secreted by their killer. Alphonsine presents the sympathetic face of vampirism.

But modern times bring changes. Twenty-first century vampires, being in a minority and practically defenseless in the daytime, keep a low profile. And the myth of not being captured on film or video is exactly that – a myth. This means that with the rise of internet use and the spread of social networks, photographic images remain a permanent record of this long-living species; threatening exposure. Also, with the highly sophisticated medical tests adopted by police forces, vampires have to acknowledge that detection is inevitable.

How long will they be able to remain invisible? Is the new technology the ultimate threat to the vampire way of life?

When Alphonsine falls totally in love with a human, she becomes aware of the futility inherent in a stagnant, never changing existence, and starts to think the unthinkable – vampires are not the superior beings. For the first time in many blood-soaked years, she sees vampires from the human point of view: sordid killers seeking discountable prey – prostitutes and down-and-outs. She has hunted humans in a ravening pack, both in dark streets and at sacrificial blood-feasts. She has killed children, killed uncountable lovers. How dare she imagine herself superior?

Loving Dashiell, she sees exactly what she has become, and contemplates a shorter lifespan. She decides to endure the harrowing, possibly fatal treatment that will return her humanity, and allow her to marry Dashiell and spend her final years with her lover.

But when her past catches up with her, all bets are off.

Blood Diva is a compelling tale that walks with Alphonsine from decadence and pleasure seeking to despair and a desperate search for purpose that will inject meaning into an unsatisfying existence.

You’ll enjoy this if you like: The novels of Anne Rice and Freda Warrington

Avoid if you don’t like: explicit sex scenes written in deliciously lubricious prose

Ideal accompaniments: a box of luxury chocolates and a well-lit room.

Genre: Literary fiction, Noir, Vampire chic

Available from Amazon.

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